In the fishing community of Biribireba, Kweku Anokye is a young mechanic who contributes to the pollution of his community. Anokye is in love with Gifty, but Gifty is dating Officer Bob. Tina, a teacher in the local school, takes action to address the community’s sanitation crisis because she recognizes the interconnectedness of her environment’s physical degradation and the community’s economic and public health. Former schoolmates, Anokye and Tina reconnect but Tina is disturbed by Anokye’s lack of concern or responsibility for his role in Eku Lagoon’s polluted state. As Anokye’s friendship with Tina grows and he begins to express concern for his community and take responsibility for his actions, Gifty (Tina’s cousin) takes notice of Anokye’s transformation and cannot help but be tempted to stray from corrupt Officer Bob.
Biribireba is a new radio soap opera that reaches up to 2.5 million people, each week, in six coastal districts of the Western Region of Ghana. The story delivers important social and environmental messages by folding them into a winding plot replete with intrigue, corruption, temptation, chaos and love.
Every Tuesday for nearly a year, listeners will tune in to listen to the twists and turns of the soap opera. Biribireba script writers, headed by Douglas Opoku-Boama, who directed as well, drew upon the Ghanaian tradition of storytelling and built upon local legends to craft a persuasive story to address eco-system governance and coastal resource management. Both are important issues in a country with a population that is expected to double in the next 20 years.
Biribireba is only one part of a larger sustainable development program, Hɛn Mpoano, meaning Our Coast in the local language Fante. Hɛn Mpoano, is a five-year program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) executed in partnership with the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) of the University of Rhode Island, SustainaMetrix, Friends of the Nation Ghana and the World Fish Center.
Each episode of the drama is broadcast inside of a talk show designed to promote listener feedback and comments on the environmental themes highlighted in the episode. Here is what one Biribireba listener had to say about the program:
“My wife is so much in love with you program (Biribireba) that she does not sacrifice it for anything. She has drawn me into listening to it too, and it is very educative and entertaining as well. It has improved our marriage. Keep airing it.”
The drama and talk show are complemented by community mobilization activities such as community fairs, a theme song competition, cook-offs between local women and soccer games for youth. The drama is a way to role model the behavior changes promoted in the larger program, and the talk show and community activities help to engage listeners and move them towards changes in their own behavior.